What is your role in agriculture?
My husband and I have a first generation dairy farm in Washington State. We started in 2009 and celebrate another year doing what we love every June. We have three kids and milk on average 140 cows. I serve on several local boards including our county farm bureau and FSA committee. I am a CommonGround volunteer and board member for the AgChat Foundation.
What was your inspiration for becoming an agvocate?
Prior to meeting my husband, I really had no knowledge of dairy farming. I learned so much so fast when we were dating and quickly realized I had a lot of misconceptions. I started sharing our story when I realized that my own family had misconceptions about what we do and that I needed to speak up. It actually started with a really nasty comment that was made about what someone “thought” we did on our farm. It made me angry and it hurt at the same time. How could someone that knew me since I was born say such a thing. Don’t they know to ask me? Well, no… they didn’t. I was “too busy” farming to engage with people about what we did. I really was, but I now know that you can’t be too busy to advocate. It needs to be part of your daily routine.
What is your favorite part about being an agvocate?
Honestly, all the amazing opportunities that have come to share our farm on a much larger platform. I have traveled all over the country the past two years working with organizations, food bloggers, presenting to other farmers/ranchers, etc. I love when farmers tell me that I inspired them to speak up or when a consumer says a simple “thank-you” for answering their questions. BUT my favorite moments are when a vegetarian or vegan says “thank-you” for caring for my cows so well even if they do not agree with using them as food. That is something to be proud of.
What is the most challenging part of being an agvocate?
This may come to a surprise or maybe it wont but the most challenging part is other farmers/agvocates. I have met some of the most amazing farmers/ranchers from all over the world. I have made such awesome friends in the AG community because of agvocating. With that said, some of my biggest critics are other farmers and agvocates. There is always someone to point out how you are doing something wrong. Maybe it is a farming practice or how you tell you story. It’s sad really. As farmers/ranchers, we are out numbered. The voices speaking out against us are loud, well organized and we are simply outnumbered. Just as no two farms are the same, you will not find two advocates that share their story the same way. To be honest, we should expect people too. We need everyone telling their OWN story and staying true to who they are.
What advice for other farmers/ranchers who would like to become more involved in agvocacy?
Just do it. You don’t have to start a Facebook page or Twitter to agvocate. Write a letter to your local paper about your farm, join the local chamber of commerce to interact with other business owners in your community, sponsor a youth sports team, invite the school to your farm, ask the school if you can speak to the kids, etc. Clean up the front of your farm, make a new farm sign, make custom swag for your farm to wear around the community, etc. There are so many simple things that can shine a positive light on your farm and help start the conversation for you. Whatever you do, just do something. We need all the positive voices we can get.
What is your biggest takeaway or memory from an AgChat event or Twitter chat?
The first conference I attended, it was so nice to just sit down & talk to other farmers that understand the need to speak up. It was like, “I have found my people”. Haha
What does the AgChat Foundation mean to you?
The AgChat Foundation is incredibly important for the world of agriculture. It helps unite agriculture and provide the tools farmers need to amplify their story. I am very excited to be on the board and using what I have learned to help other farmers & ranchers.
Krista is a wife, mother of three & first generation dairy farmer. Together with her husband, they milk 140 cows in Washington State. She blogs at thefarmerswifee.com and shares her farm on multiple social media platforms.